Tag Archives: Reflection

Considering what lies ahead

The gifts have been opened, holiday meals eaten, and reheated and eaten again. Relatives are gone, the house and schedules are beginning to return to some semblance of normalcy. Now our minds turn toward a new year and the possibilities that are present as the calendar signals another year on the horizon.

This is a wonderful time to slow down and listen in prayer to what God’s desire is for you in the coming year. In prayer, release disappointments, unfulfilled projects and goals, and any hurts that happened over the last year. Give the Holy Spirit time to speak encouragement and hope to your heart. Give thanks for the blessings and the blessings hidden in the trials and tests you experienced. Surrender any losses into God’s hand and let His love heal your heart. Like each new day, each year is full of the hope to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

~ Excerpted from 365 Days to a Prayer-Filled Life by Germaine Copeland

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, God, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jesus, Reflection

I’m sick and tired of the hype about new Easter ideas!

I’m all for new thoughts and ideas. They usually help to stimulate my slow-moving and limited brain cells. So I subscribe to various ministry newsletters.

Most of the articles come from men and women seasoned with plenty of ministry experience. And most usually have some nugget of wisdom or insight to offer.

But I’m sick and tired of the hype of new Easter ideas! 

We are still weeks away from Easter but here is a list of the articles that have already come across my computer screen:

  • 16 Tips for Better Easter Impact
  • 6 Preaching and Teaching Tips for Easter
  • 11 Keys to an Explosive Easter Service
  • Easter Challenge to Pastors
  • 40 Easter Outreach Ideas
  • 4 Ways to Keep Easter Guests Coming Back
  • 12 Ways to Make Sure Easter Guests Don’t Come Back (A creative way to express what we should avoid doing)
  • 8 Vital Elements of an Easter Sermon
  • Church Will Give Away $1000 on Easter

If you add all of these magical numbers together they equal: 1 nauseated pastor!

What do you suppose the disciples of Jesus were doing after His death but before that first Easter morning?

Mourning: They were grief-stricken over the death of Jesus. They felt lost.

Examining: How did this happen? Did we miss something? How did we get here?

Praying: “Dear God, do something!”

What if we approached Easter this same way? What if we used this season of Lent to really get ready for Easter?

Mourning: Are we grief-stricken that our sins and the sins of the world led Jesus to be crucified?

Examining: What am I doing with my life? What are my real priorities? Am I putting God first?

Praying: “Dear God, do something! And let it begin with me!”

The only way for the world to experience the effects of a risen Savior is for me to first experience the effects of a risen Savior!

“Lord, stir my heart and quicken my spirit. Draw me closer to You and awaken me to live in the reality of a risen Savior. Transform my head, my heart and my hands as I give myself to love broken people in a fallen world!”

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, Easter, Good Friday, Grief, influence with the world, intimacy with the Lord, Lent, Loving God, Loving others, Morphing, Prayer, Priorities, Reflection, Revival, Sin

More than just a change in scenery

Last week Susan and I enjoyed the sunshine and warmth of Florida. Eli, our oldest, is starting an 8-month internship with Disney World near Orlando so I took Monday and Tuesday to ride down with him. Our time together was great!

We arrived Tuesday afternoon just ahead of Susan’s flight. Eli was busy with getting settled in but had enough space for us to enjoy some activities in the area together before Susan and I flew back on Saturday.

Besides the sunshine and warmth, the real treat was the change of pace and chance to relax. Susan and I had time to step away from the busy routine and reflect on different aspects of life; things that get lost in hectic daily activities.

Do you know which of the Ten Commandments is given the most amount of space in Scripture? The most attention?

Keeping the Sabbath!

It’s not about a certain day of the week, but the rhythm of pausing from the regular routine long enough to give our relationship with God some serious attention.

At it’s core, Sabbath is a reminder that God is God and we are not!

Most of us would quickly acknowledge that we are not God, but we tend to live as if we are – as if it all depends on us. We worry, we fret, we pace, we lose sleep at night… and we always think we know how things should be handled!

Few of us can spend part of every week in Florida but we can all carve out space daily, weekly and monthly to stop and spend time with God, letting Him remind us that He is in charge and has everything under control.

The Sabbath was put in place by God because He knew how easily we slide behind the steering wheel and try to take charge. Perhaps that’s one reason God inspired David to write in Psalm 46:10…

Be still and know that I am God.

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Filed under intimacy with the Lord, Margin, Reflection, Rest, Trusting God

How reading the Bible can destroy your soul

We can often use the Bible in ways that stifle spiritual life or even destroy the soul.

Really? Stifle spiritual growth and destroy the soul? That’s the observation made by Richard Foster in Life with God. He points out that the root problem has to do with two common objectives people have for studying the Bible.

The first issue is the practice of studying the Bible for information or knowledge alone. There is much that we can learn from the Bible and learning is a vital part of growing. But knowledge alone tends to make us arrogant.

The second issue is that people often study the Bible to find some formula that will solve the pressing need of the moment. When we go looking for simple formulas we greatly increase the risk of taking Scripture out of context and this can lead to some unhealthy conclusions.

The real danger in these two common ways of approaching the Bible is that they leave us or someone else in charge. They are, in fact, ways of trying to control what comes out of the Bible rather than submitting to the process of transformation that Scripture can accomplish in us. When we approach the Bible from the perspective of whole-life discipleship to Jesus, amazing changes can take place in us.

So how do we approach Scripture in a way that promotes real life change?

READ with an open, focused mind and a surrendered heart. Ask God to help you understand the context (big picture) of what you’re reading and the author’s original intentions.

REFLECT on what you’re reading. Pause to reread portions of it and let it soak in. If something really speaks to your heart highlight it or make a note. If something raises a question jot it down to explore later.

RESPOND to what you’ve read. Is there an action to take or an attitude to adjust? Is there a sin to confess or a praise to offer God? Prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to continue speaking to you from what you’ve read.

Use a small notebook to record your daily reading, reflecting and responding. This is a great way to review your journey with God through Scripture and can be an encouragement when times get tough.

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If you’re sharing our journey through The Story then read chapter one in it and The Heart of the Story. If you’re just hearing about The Story and want to know more click on the page tab above.

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Filed under Bible, Holy Spirit, Morphing, Prayer, Reflection, Scripture, Surrender, The Story

Guarding our most valuable asset – Part 2

“Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.”

~ Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Yesterday I blogged on why it is so critical to guard our hearts, today I want to touch on how we can do that. Taking care of our physical heart requires discipline; habits of exercise and eating right. The same dynamic is true for guarding the heart that King Solomon is referring to here in Proverbs. Here are some suggestions.

The Discipline of Reflection. Like a bad amusement park ride the pace of life just keeps getting faster and faster. Making time to pause periodically and reflect is crucial.

We live in a busy and noisy world that will suck the life out of us if we let it. This is why it is essential that we intentionally pull away to a quiet place, pause, and reflect. If Jesus needed to do this (Mark 1:35), how much more important is it for us?

The Discipline of Rest. It was no accident that God took the seventh day of creation to do nothing with Adam and Eve. Reread the 10 commandments and notice which one gets the most attention. (Hint: Remembering the Sabbath – Exodus 20)

We were designed by our Creator to need rest. Eight hours of sleep. One day every seven to relax. Don’t skip vacation time! Without rest our judgment gets blurry and the heart is more vulnerable to attack. Make rest a priority and write it in on your calendar.

The Discipline of Recreation. There is a difference between amusement and recreation. There is nothing wrong with amusement but it can leave us more tired than before we started. Recreation, on the other hand, are those activities that recharge us.

Reading a good book. Creating something with wood or crafts or even baking. Playing an instrument simply to enjoy it. Spend time working on that project that’s been waiting all this time. It will be different for everyone but the common thread is that the activity refreshes our soul.

The Discipline of Relationships. We are wired by a relational God to be in relationship with Him and others. Our level of involvement with others will vary depending on our personality but we need others with which to share the journey.

Make time to deepen important relationships and do all that you can to keep them healthy. They do more to strengthen our heart than we realize. And our most important relationship with the one we pursue with God!

These disciplines will help guard our heart and our heart will direct the course of our journey in life!

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Filed under Determination, Friendship, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Margin, Recreation, Reflection, Rest